Throughout U.S. history, government science has made extraordinary contributions to our well-being. From the Lewis and Clark expedition to vaccination, the moon landing and the development of the Internet, scientists working for the federal government have made Americans safer, healthier, more prosperous, and better informed about our world.

But while government science is responsive to public concerns, it is also vulnerable to political pressures. When the scientific evidence supports policies that threaten the interests of powerful constituencies, science may be suppressed, censored, distorted, or manipulated.

Origins of our scientific integrity work

Abuse of science is not a new problem, but it reached new levels of pervasiveness during the first George W. Bush administration. In 2004 UCS responded by issuing a report, Scientific Integrity in Federal Policy Making, and a statement signed by 62 leading U.S. scientists (more than 15,000 would eventually add their names) calling for an end to political interference in science.

Over the following years, the UCS Scientific Integrity Program documented the problem extensively with in-depth reports, case studies, and surveys of federal scientists.

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Monitoring scientific integrity reform

In March 2009, President Obama issued a memo calling for comprehensive scientific integrity reform in federal agencies. Nearly two years later, in December 2010, White House science advisor John Holdren issued a directive instructing agencies to come up with detailed scientific integrity policy updates, and setting standards and deadlines for those policies.

As agencies began to produce new and updated policies in response to the Holdren directive, the UCS Scientific Integrity Program monitored the process, providing consultation, resources such as model policies, and analysis and public comments on policy drafts as they were issued.

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The present and future of scientific integrity

More than a decade after the original scientist statement, progress has been made, but work still needs to be done at all levels to transform the culture of federal agencies. The Center for Science and Democracy will continue to promote scientific integrity, call out abuses, and offer advice and constructive criticism to agencies as they pursue the difficult but necessary task of reform.

We Need Your Support
to Make Change Happen

We can ensure that decisions about our health, safety, and environment are based on the best available science—but not without you. Your generous support helps develop science-based solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.